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Back to Infectious Disease Articles

Monday, 7 June 2004 05:30 PM GMT


The new outbreak in Yambio has killed between 25 and 30 percent of the people infected. The CDC had indicated that the outbreak is not linked to the known strains of Ebola virus.


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Ebola hemorrhagic fever
Ebola virus


Scientists at the World Health Organization suspect that a new milder strain of the Ebola virus may have caused the latest outbreak of the deadly hemorrhagic fever in southern Sudan.

10 people were infected with the Ebola-like virus in Yambio, a Sudanese town near the border with Congo. Four of them have already died.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta indicated that the outbreak is not linked to the known strains of Ebola-like viruses that cause the more severe viral infection.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever

Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF; commonly referred to as simply Ebola) is a recently identified, severe, often fatal infectious disease occurring in humans and some primates caused by the Ebola virus.

Ebola was first discovered in 1976, and since its discovery, different strands of the Ebola virus have caused epidemics with 50 to 90 percent mortality in Za?e, Gabon and Uganda.

Source: "Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever Table Showing Known Cases and Outbreaks, in Chronological Order." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 18 October 2002.

Among humans, the virus is transmitted by direct contact with infected body fluids such as blood. The incubation period of Ebola hemorrhagic fever varies from two days to four weeks. There are four known strains of Ebola-like viruses, three of which cause the deadly disease, the CDC said on its web site.

The Ebola virus is spread by contact with body fluids, including sweat and saliva. Outbreaks of the disease are rare, and no one knows where the virus lives when it is not infecting humans. The disease usually kills its victims so fast that it also destroys the host for the virus. The viruses are probably preserved in an undefined reservoir in the rain forests of Africa

Symptoms are variable too, but the onset is usually sudden and characterized by high fever, prostration, myalgia, arthralgia, abdominal pains and headache. These symptoms progress to vomiting, diarrhea, oropharyngeal lesions, conjunctivitis, organ damage (notably the kidney and liver) by co-localized necrosis, proteinuria, and bleeding both internal and external, commonly through the gastrointestinal tract. Death or recovery to convalescence occurs within six to ten days.

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Outbreak in Yambio

The Ebola virus involved in the latest outbreak could be a new virus. Scientists could not match the known variants, so it could be a new variant. Genetic tests are being conducted at the CDC in order to characterize and classify the suspected new strain of the Ebola virus.

The symptoms of the illness around Yambio include general malaise, fever, vomiting blood and bloody diarrhea. The mortality of the suspected new variant has killed between 25 and 30 percent of the people infected, while other variants kill between 50 and 90 percent of those who contract the disease.

Previous epidemics

The first recognized Ebola epidemic occurred almost simultaneously in southern Sudan and in a nearby region of the Congo in 1976, according to the CDC. At the time, Ebola killed 117 of the 284 people who were reported with the viral infection in southern Sudan. In Congo, it killed 280 of the 318 people infected. In 2000, an Ebola outbreak killed 173 people in Gulu district in northern Uganda, which also borders southern Sudan.


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